Nanaimo Bars

Photography by Maya Visnyei / Recipe Development and Food Styling by Emily Turner

Named after the city of Nanaimo on British Columbia’s Vancouver Island, this chocolate wafer crumb-crusted and custard-filled treat has been an iconic staple in Canadian households since the mid-1950s. With our own twist on the classic, toasted almonds add nutty flavor and crunch while the flaked sea salt cuts through its oh-so-rich decadence. For more classic Canadian recipes, get our Nov/Dec issue, out now! 

5.0 from 3 reviews
Nanaimo Bars
Makes 16
  • ½ cup (113 grams) unsalted butter
  • 6 tablespoons (30 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ⅓ cup (67 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (3 grams) kosher salt
  • 1 large egg (50 grams), lightly beaten
  • ½ teaspoon (3 grams) vanilla bean paste
  • 1¾ cups (228 grams) graham cracker crumbs
  • ¾ cup (85 grams) sweetened flaked coconut
  • ⅓ cup (38 grams) blanched slivered almonds, finely chopped
  • Custard Filling (recipe follows)
  • Grand Marnier Ganache (recipe follows)
  • ⅓ cup (38 grams) whole almonds, roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons (6 grams) flaked salt
  1. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, letting excess extend over sides of pan. Spray with cooking spray.
  2. In the top of a double boiler, combine butter, cocoa, sugar, and salt. Cook over simmering water, stirring constantly, until butter is melted. Add egg and vanilla bean paste, stirring until thickened and smooth, about 1 minute. Remove from heat, and stir in graham cracker crumbs, coconut, and slivered almonds.
  3. Press mixture into bottom of prepared pan. Spread Custard Filling onto prepared crust, smoothing top with an offset spatula. Spread Grand Marnier Ganache on top of Custard Filling, smoothing top with an offset spatula. Sprinkle with chopped whole almonds and flaked salt. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Using excess parchment as handles, remove from pan, and cut into bars. Serve at room temperature.

5.0 from 3 reviews
Custard Filling
Makes 1⅔ cups
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (141 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons (20 grams) vanilla custard powder*
  • 1 teaspoon (4 grams) vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups (300 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3 tablespoons (45 grams) heavy whipping cream
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and custard powder at medium speed until creamy, 2 to 3 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Stir in vanilla. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar alternately with cream, beating until combined. Beat until fluffy, about 1 minute.
*We used Bird’s Custard Powder.

5.0 from 3 reviews
Grand Marnier Ganache
Makes ½ cup
  • 4 ounces (115 grams) 56% cacao semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1½ tablespoons (21 grams) unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons (30 grams) heavy whipping cream, warmed
  • 1 teaspoon (5 grams) Grand Marnier
  1. In the top of a double boiler, melt chocolate and butter over medium-low heat. Remove from heat; stir in warm cream until combined. Stir in Grand Marnier.


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    • Hi Lauren!

      Thanks for reaching out! It sounds like the butter, cocoa, sugar and salt mixture may have been too hot when the egg was added (or the heat was too intense following the egg addition). You will want the water to be just simmering so that it melts the butter, but does not cook and curdle the egg. If the egg is cooked too quickly, it will not act as a binder, so you want to make sure your heat is very gentle at this step. Hope this helps!

  1. Happy to find this on the web as I lost the Bake From Scratch magazine that had this recipe – I have to double it up as my family loves them and have also given them as gifts.

  2. Do these bars need to be refrigerated at all times after making them? Or can they be left out at room temperature after the 2 hours chill? I don’t want it to spoil, and I wasn’t sure if it would or not.

    • Hi Lillian,

      Thank you for your question!

      These bars are typically served cold and also contain ingredients that will spoil faster if left out at room temperature, so we recommend storing in the fridge.

      Hope this helps, and happy baking!


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